Agnico Eagle Mines to extend EU’s biggest gold mine

A new shaft will extend the life of the European Union’s biggest gold mine after Agnico Eagle Mines said it will commence a shaft sinking project at the Kittilä gold mine in Lapland, Northern Finland.

The Canada-based gold producer will invest nearly US$200 million on the expansion which will add a 1,044m deep shaft that will increase expected mill throughput by 25% to 2 million tonnes (Mt) per annum.

Construction work on the shaft will spread over a four-year period and is expected to result in a 50-70,000 ounce (oz) annual increase in gold production, with the shaft providing access to the mineral resource at depths below 1,150m, which could further extend the mine life.

“The expansion project is expected to increase the efficiency of the mine and decrease or maintain current operating costs while providing access to the deeper mining horizons,” the company said in its full-year financial report.

Agnico Eagle managed to beat its 2017 guidance of 1.68 million oz, producing a record annual gold output of 1.71 million oz. The firm also expects gold production to increase next year and in 2019 as the Meliadne mine in Nunavut, Canada starts up.

The Kittilä mine, located about 150km North of the Arctic Circle, produced 202,508 oz of gold in 2016. It contains proven and probable reserves of 4.5 million oz as of the end of December.